Editor's Note: Starting July 7 and running through the rest of the month, Tommiesports.com will highlight 25 memorable events from St. Thomas' successful 2017-18 athletics year
The Tommies held off No. 6-ranked St. John's 20-17 in a Sept. 23 clash of archrivals in the first football game held at Target Field in Minneapolis. A Division III record crowd of 37,355 saw the Toms ' defense slow the Johnnies and help run the Purple win streak in the series to four.
St. John's kept the game in doubt until the end despite UST's 386-151 total-offense advantage. St. Thomas held the Johnnies to one net yard rushing on 20 carries. The Toms' three-headed tailback platoon of Jordan Roberts, Josh Parks and Tucker Trettel combined for 101 tough yards on 30 rushes.
There was a wide spectrum of media coverage before, during and after the game. A pregame feature story by Pat Borzi was published in the New York Times, which is printed 1,200 miles to the east. A national wrap-up story that led off with Tommie-Johnnie attendance was printed by the Los Angeles Times, located 1,930 miles to the west.
The sun-drenched crowd topped the attendance totals of 84 Division I games played that weekend -- 28 FBS contests, and 56 of the 57 FCS games. Among the prominent matchups where attendance couldn't match the Tommie-Johnnie total included Maryland at Central Florida, West Virginia at Kansas, Texas Tech at Houston, Virginia at Boise State, and Nevada at Washington State. The crowd also exceeded the gate at 80 of the 81 Minnesota Twins regular-season games played at Target Field. It was larger than 20 of the 40 major-college bowl games in 2016.
It was a record-setting day on Tommiesports.com, too, for the game's live video stream. The video attracted 17,000 hits. Our previous high for live web traffic was 9,000 hits in December 2016 for an NCAA quarterfinal playoff loss to UW-Oshkosh.
Here are some quotes from Doug Hennes' postgame story:
"Two great universities, two great football teams both nationally ranked and alumni bases that are very passionate about their universities," SJU coach Gary Fasching said. "I told the guys this is something they'll remember the rest of their lives."
UST coach Glenn Caruso noted that he still hears regularly about the Tommies' 1948 Cigar Bowl team, which played on New Year's Day in Florida – and that was nearly 70 years ago. Saturday's game, he said, "will forever be known as the Target Field Game."
Fans will long remember it, too. In the waning minutes, during a timeout, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" came on the public address system. The crowd joined in to lustily sing "good times never seemed so good" and then ad-libbed, "So good! So good!"
Previous July Rewind stories:
- July 22: Women's Hockey Closes Strong
- July 23: Toms get 11 MIAC MVP-Type Honors
- July 24: Toms Continue Impressive Streaks in '17-18